Anne’s No Rules Friday 04

A/N: I’m following the tradition of sharing a bit of my NaNo WIP: The One with Talons. It’s more of a prologue than a first chapter.

I’m eight and don’t yet know fear.

Mother’s screaming pierces my sleep. Getting out of bed and picking up my new blade, I race up the servant’s staircase in the North Tower. It’s cramped and dark, the screams echo against the cold stones, making the space smaller.

I’m eight and don’t yet know monsters.

A blast of cold air hits me as I reach my parents’ bedchamber. Moonlight falls through an enormous slash in the wall. The smell of butchered meat and feathers fills my nose. A rush of wings and claws overpowers Mother. I see Father strewn across the bed like a discarded doll. His once-proud chest lies in shreds; he stares at me with eyeless sockets. A bird-woman throws Eleanor, my infant sister, out into the night to another who catches the babe in her feet and flies away. Eleanor’s wails carry on the wind.

I’m eight and don’t yet know bravery.

The steel’s heavy in my sweaty grip. Stepping into the room, chin held level, I avoid looking down at my parents. “I command you to leave!” I scream in a high-pitched voice. A beautiful woman’s face, streaked with blood, turns to find me in the dark of the stairwell.

I’m eight and don’t yet know pain.

In an instant she’s upon me, one talon gripping around my waist, and the other stabbing deep into my left cheek. Her wings snap and move in the air above me. Something sings through my veins. I raise my sword, slashing down hard and true. The blade bites until two heavy talons fall to the floor. The price: my eye. I grip the hollow space, and hear the king’s guard marching inside. The bird-woman escapes, a curse on her lips.

I’m eight and don’t yet know the word for revenge.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Stay tuned for Julie’s No Rules Friday next week.

Anne’s Book Club 04

20-20-experience-2I listen to music while I write each prompt in addition to being influenced by the photo, art piece, or poem. In fact, I like to listen to the same track while I’m researching too.

It used to be that I’d only listen to instrumentals, or classical, or soundtracks (without words), or songs in foreign languages that I couldn’t understand. Then a couple years ago, Jen introduced me to songs like “Lights” by Ellie Goulding and “Howl” by Florence + the Machine (which, btw, I refer to as the werewolf song or the heart song because I have no head for details like titles). It amazed me that the underlying feelings could seep into my scenes, which were completely unrelated to the song / singer. And here at Cimmerian Tales, we want art to fuel art.

Justin Timberlake’s most recent addition to his discography is a bit darker than previous albums. There have been heavy songs in the past like “Cry Me a River” but this is the first time that most of the songs take on that dark side of the moon aspect. It’s been one of my fav albums to have playing on repeat while I research things that go bump in the night. And Timbaland’s beats keep me hitting repeat again and again. Plus, all the songs (except Cabaret) log in at over 5 mins = great audio value.

Here’s a quick run-down of the 11 tracks found on “The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2”:

1) Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want) This song is hypnotic with a touch of exotic. JT’s vocals play a game back and forth. I’m hooked. “Show me your teeth and then spread your wings.” That line’s begging to be a story.

2) True Blood This song makes me happy. It makes me dance. I wrote “Ramapo High Parts I & II” to this song. “When she got the bite of my type she told me that she’d found her perfect blood mate.”

3) Cabaret (feat. Drake) Dirty and catchy. If this song doesn’t make you want to join a pole dancing class, I don’t know what will. >:D The addition of Drake seals the deal. “Cuz even though I’m a professional / I like to do my work at home.”

4) TKO If “Cry Me a River” grew up into an abusive relationship, this would be it. The video immediately reminded me of one of Audrey’s stories where the girl wins in the end. If by wins, I mean murders someone horribly. YAY! “Tried to go below the belt, through my chest, perfect hit to the dome. Damnit, babe / This ain’t the girl that I used to know.” Cuz she be crai.

5) Take Back the Night The first single. Love the horns. When it was released in July, I thought it would be my very fav on the entire CD. Turns out, it’s not, but it’s damn good. “Ooh, don’t know when the sun’s rising next / Take back the night.”

6) Murder (feat. Jay-Z) Good beat, but the lyrics get a bit repetitive — and not in a chorus kind of way. I wish there were another verse. “I line ’em up, she shoot ’em down / (Murder).”

7) Drink You Away Upbeat and musical, but darker lyrics. This is something I first noticed in Hanson songs. They’ll be singing about pain and loss, but you can’t stop tapping your feet to the beat — is that irony? “Don’t they make a medicine for heartbreak?”

8) You Got It On I could take or leave this song, tbh. It’s happy/sappy, and kind of doesn’t go with the rest of the album’s tone. Probably written for his wife, which is sweet, but it’s too pretty here. Ugh, I’m such a sap killer. “Sounds like falling in love.”

9) Amnesia Reminiscent of other JT songs from past albums, but with a new maturity. His falsetto and style really come into their own on this track. “I could feel it almost start to change / But then it hurts too much, that’s when it starts to fade.”

10) Only When I Walk Away The bluesy feel on this track is damn catchy. I feel pulled and pushed, like the ebb and flow of the tides. “She loves me now, she loves me not / She loves me now, but only when I walk away.”

11) Not a Bad Thing An interesting departure from other song choices on 2 of 2. Again, it doesn’t seem to quite fit. It feels more like an *NSYNC track from the past, even with the gratuitous swearing that really feels out of place here. What I’m saying is, I skip this song when listening to the whole. It’s not a bad song on its own, but I’d swap out Blindness or Electric Lady (found exclusively at Target) with this one. “When someone cuts your heart open with a knife, and you’re bleeding / But I could be that guy to heal it over time.”

Do you listen to music in order to crank out pages, or do you prefer absolute silence? What are some of your fav songs?

“Future” by Paramore Inspires Audrey

The Heap

It was the boy with dark hair.

Helena stopped and dropped to the ground. Her hand slid into something slimy and she had to bite her tongue to keep from screaming. She could hear his feet kicking cans out of the way as he headed toward the rusted blue truck. She held her breath as he passed close, but he didn’t notice her; she was just another piece of trash, all dirty and discarded. Helena stayed where she was until she heard the squeaky hinges of the truck door before jumping up and bolting to the far side of the Heap.

She skidded to a halt in front of her box and looked over her shoulder, but there was no movement behind her. She ducked behind the faded denim flap that served as her door and squatted in the semi-darkness. Helena examined the key. It was metal, warm from being held in her sweaty palm as she ran. There didn’t seem to be anything special about it. She felt around the floor of the box until she found some fishing line and pulled it through a hole on the key. She tied the line around her neck and let the key fall under her shirt. Derrick had probably seen her at the truck. If she lost her prize now, he would kill her for sure.

Peter slammed the truck door shut and listened to the tinkle of rusted pieces falling off. It sounded almost like rain, or what he remembered rain sounding like. He leaned back over the worn leather of the front seat to glance in the back of the cab. He added a half full bottle of water to the pile. It was all he had found today. His rat stopped digging in its newspaper bedding to watch the bottle teeter for a moment before falling to the floor and rolling under the front seat. Peter sighed and slipped to the floor to retrieve the bottle. His hair fell into his eyes and he had to push it back a couple of times before he spotted the bottle. He reached for it and was just able to get it rolling toward the front of the cab with the tips of his fingers. He grasped the bottle in one hand and ran his other hand under the seat searching for the key.

It was gone.

continue reading…

Jen’s No Rules Friday

Here’s a little sneak peek at my work in progress:

Everything is still. I am unmoving on the Northshore, watching from the trees. Watching the sky and the sea and the land. The morning, the land, and even the sea is still today, though the wind blows. It’s like the coast is waiting, but for what I don’t know. And then I do.

A girl appears on the Northshore, and nothing inside of me is still, for I recognize her instantly, as anyone would.

Aeryn.

Her face is known throughout this land.  I’ve never seen it so close, though I’m hardly close to her at all. She is all red and white in the dawn, her hair like a muddy chestnut and her skin like tea that’s mostly cream. She is glued to the back of her horse, a mare, like the two of them have been a pair for years. Even from this distance, I can tell her mount is fine. Muscles bunch and stretch under her grey coat and her ears flick back and forth, listening to the girl on her back. Her mouth chews at a snaffle bit, and she is supple and round as she works. Her chest is barely lathered, though they must have run from the palace. She’s a strong mount for a seemingly delicate rider.

Aeryn’s hands let the reins go and her horse slows instantly. She dismounts after many steps, and they way she pats her mare tugs a smile from my mouth. Until I realize I’m smiling at the girl who would harm the flying horses. What is she doing so far from home without guards? I could kill her easily, I’m sure of it. Maybe even before she could scream if my aim was right. My hand reaches for my blade. Without her this ruling family would be half its size and without an heir.

My hand tightens on the hilt of the knife, and I aim for her throat. It’ll be a clean kill if I land my mark. Bloody, but clean. My hand doesn’t shake, for I love the flying horses more than I love my future queen. I take one step to align my target and Aeryn’s head pops up to search out the sound of my footfall. I freeze. Her eyes are so green they dance like clovers in the wind and I feel them on me even though she can’t see me. I’m pinned by those eyes for a second. She turns back to her horse, and I know if I don’t throw it now I never will. Eyes make life, and now I’ve seen hers. I try to find the anger I had a moment ago. I find it and I grab it and steady my arm. The blade will fly true.

I hear her gasp. The sound is one of pain or awe, and I haven’t thrown yet so it must be the latter. And then I feel it.

Sciathan.

I see it dancing on the wind and I pray to God the princess doesn’t have a bow on her. The dark flying horse plays in the eddies of the air and I cannot breathe because he is gorgeous and she will kill him. Onyx. The black Sciathan is nothing but ink and velvet.

If I don’t kill her now, the best of the Sciathan will die by her hand or her will. The king of the flying horses cannot die.

My eyes leave Onyx and search out my target again. I pull my arm back as my eyes find her. The muscles in my forearm flex as I aim to throw. Onyx screams above us, and I check the motion at the last moment.

Her face. It’s all red and white and awe. Not anger or determination or hate. It’s an open mouthed grin and wide eyes. It’s caught breath and frozen muscles. She is awed by the best of the Sciathan, and as he disappears into Carraig’s mist I see her mouth move.

“Beautiful,” falls soft and perfect from her lips.

My blade falls at my feet.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Stay tuned for Anne’s No Rules Friday next week.

Jen’s Book Club

Last Thursday I had the opportunity (aka time off work) to go listen to Andrea Gibson spin poems at the University of Virginia. Let me tell you that it was in the most archaic church I’ve ever seen, all stained glass and heavy dark wood and busts of important religious folk who were probably judging all the queers stuffed into the pews.

University of Virginia has bells that chime every hour. Loudly and with feeling. So, during the performance Gibson paused to let the bells chime. They never did, though, and it was almost a poem when she looked at us and said, “They turned off the bells for the gays.”

One of Andrea’s books, The Madness Vase, is all about the irony of turning off church bells, among other pretty and hazardous things.

From Amazon.com:812+21mSbYL

“The poems’ topics range from hate crimes to playgrounds, from international conflict to hometowns, from falling in love to the desperation of loneliness.  Gibson’s work seizes us by the collar and hauls us inside some of her darkest moments, then releases out the other side.  Moments later, we find ourselves inhaling words that fill us with light.   Her luminous imagery is a buoy that allows us to resurface from her world clutching new possibilities of our own.   Throughout her career, Gibson’s poems have always been a call to social justice.  But this collection goes beyond awareness. Her images linger in our psyches and entreat us to action.  They challenge us to grow into our own skin.  The journey may be raw at times but we are continuously left inspired, held, and certain we are not alone.”

This book is small in stature but big in meaning, and it’s more than just gay literature. It’s church and state. It’s falling and getting back up with bloody knees and a good laugh. It’s that pinpoint of light in the darkness. It’s raw like silk can be raw, but also raw like nerves exposed. It’s loss and fear and hate, and love in spite of all of it.

Audrey’s Cimmerian Tales Book Club

Shards_Cover_small_2One of the perks of having a sister who is also a writer, is that she lets me read her books before their officially debut… Well, sometimes she does if I ask her over and over and over. I kept asking about Shards and finally she gave in…

The thing about this book is I kinda feel like its proud aunt. I had almost nothing to do with its creation (besides the prodding “Hey, Kit. When are you going to finish that angel book?”) and I’m not responsible for it at all, but I’m more than willing to show it off and take full credit for its awesomeness. Years ago when I read the first draft, I was blown away by how intrigued I was with the world Kit was creating. Truth is, I love a good romance like its nobody’s business (Don’t even get me started on Emma and Captain Hook) and my sister has occasionally teased me about this fact but she had me read Shards because she wanted my opinion on the romantic aspects of the book. Needless to say I gave her a big thumbs up and then anxiously waited for years for her to finish her novel.

Shards walks that line between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance in a way that appeals to fans of either genre. It has action, it has romance, and it has an amazingly squished together Angel/Greek/Norse/Etc. fantasy element that weaves together so well that I can’t tell where the research stops and Kit’s ideas begin (in that good way that draws you into a world that you totally buy into). Eva Martinez is just trying to finish her religious studies degree before her mom guilts her into coming home, when Michael saves her life. There’s definitely a spark between them, but Eva needs to focus on her studies and upcoming trip to research her thesis. Turns out Michael knows a lot about her major, but there’s a lot he’s not telling her too. Will Eva discover the truth about herself before it’s too late? Guess you’ll have to read to find out…

Shards will be coming out December first and will be available from Turtleduck Press. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

“Future” by Paramore Inspires Anne

The Diviner’s Club

Paul clutches the velvety smooth white card in his hand, marvelling at how a thick piece of paper could be the key to his future. He traces a thumb over the gold embossed script and reads for the thousandth time:

The Diviner’s Club requests the presence of
Master Paul Kent
on Saturday evening, the tenth of November,
eighteen eighty-eight at eight o’clock.
16 Cheapside, London, England.

Minutes after they’d left Eton’s grounds, Samuel, in charge of everything since they were thirteen, made Paul change from his King’s Scholar robes into a costume he’d nicked from the playhouse cupboards. “Wouldn’t want to look like a couple of toffs, would we?” The wool itched against the skin at Paul’s throat and wrists. And deep inside he knew he wasn’t a toff to begin with, not even close. He’d needled Samuel for almost the entire carriage ride from Eton to London. Seven hours of begging and pleading, as Samuel laughed and changed the subject.

“We’ve three minutes until the doors open,” Samuel says, tucking his pocket watch beneath a poorly patched overcoat from a production of Othello. The coat would stand out on anyone else, but it hangs on Samuel’s impeccable frame. The watch costs almost as much as Paul’s father makes in a year. “What would the birthday chap like to do in the meantime?”

Paul stands in London, in front of number 16 on his sixteenth birthday, and he remains still and silent. He presses his lips tightly together. Carts and horses jostle each other in the overcrowded streets behind him, children and cats race down alleyways, and smoke rises up from chimneys. Paul likens his reaction to an over stimulated cat, not knowing where to look next. The stillness is broken as he fiddles with the baker boy’s brim. Pulls it down on his brow, pushes it up. Down. Up. Down. Samuel swats his nervous hand from touching the scratchy fabric again.

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